Ear Piercing 101: Everything you need to know before getting pierced
Thinking about getting a new ear piercing, but don’t know where to start? Here’s what you need to know - how it works, how much it hurts, and how to take care of your piercing.
Where you get your new piercing matters - not only for the ear parties that you’ll be able to create, but also for what to expect. If there’s a look that you’re going for, bring pictures in to your piercer so you can discuss what will work best for your personal ear anatomy (and your pain tolerance). Need some help with inspiration photos? We curate our favorite ear parties on Instagram over at @letsearparty.
A couple of ideas to start? A chic triple helix piercing could be in order to take your ear party to the next level - added bonus is that the helix is one of the less painful places to pierce. Or go for a versatile tragus or daith piercing to a touch of unexpected sparkle.
If you need some help sorting out what piercing to choose, I made a handy little guide to explain everything you need to know about each piercing, including pain and healing time.
The two major types of piercing jewelry to know about are:
Flat Back Earrings: These special piercing earrings feature a flat back (hence the name!) that won't poke you or irritate your skin. We make two types of flat back earrings: a super easy to wear push pin flat back - or a threaded screw flat back for extra security. If you're new to piercing jewelry, we recommend the push pin flat back.
Cartilage Hoops: The classic cartilage hoop is a hoop that feature a hinged closure that clicks in and out. We make clicker cartilage hoops in a bunch of fun styles for you to mix and match!
Learn more about how to insert and remove your piercing jewelry with our handy guide!
TBH, there’s a wide range of pain levels associated with piercings depending on location and your pain tolerance. In general, cartilage piercings do tend to hurt significantly more than lobe piercings. If you’re concerned about pain, you may want to consider a helix piercing - it’s beautiful and versatile, and it’s normally the least painful cartilage piercing. FWIW, conch piercings are some of the most painful given that the needle needs to pierce a thick flat plane of cartilage. If you’ve never had a piercing before, I’d recommend starting with a standard lobe piercing. Check out our handy little guide to explain everything you need to know about each piercing, including pain and healing time.
Depending on where you’re getting pierced, you’ll be choosing different types of jewelry for proper healing. For example, the daith piercing, the smallest fold of cartilage where the outer ridge of your ear meets your inner ear, is almost always initially pierced with a small hoop. Your piercer can help you select a piece of jewelry that will be suitable for proper healing. If you have a specific piece of jewelry you’d like to wear, be sure to double check with your piercer to make sure your piercing location supports that shape. Learn more with our guide to the best earrings for new piercings.
👇 Here are our favorites for new piercings 👇
Since the piercing industry is mostly self regulated, it’s important to do your research to make sure you have a safe and pleasant experience.
Do your research to find a local piercer who is reputable. Check out reviews online, social media platforms, Yelp, etc., ask around to see if any of your friends have a good recommendation, and take a look at the piercer’s portfolio.
Professional piercer Ryan Dreyfuss of Relic Body Arts says: "At a minimum this means your piercer will have a clean, inviting studio, an in depth portfolio showing healed work, and has met all standards set forth by the Association of Professional Piercers. You can find many reputable piercers through the Association of Professional Piercers website."
Talking to a professional piercer can also give you a lot of insight into healing time, pain, and the best location for your individual ear. Most piercing studios allow you to book a consultation meeting before your piercing with a professional. Be sure to ask questions!
What to look for as you choose your piercer:
✨ Cleanliness & hygiene of shop
✨ Certifications & licenses
✨ Aftercare guidelines should be explained & provided to you in writing
✨ Use of piercing needles NOT piercing guns
1. Arrive a little bit early for your appointment to review your choices of jewelry. Bring your ID and consent form. Professional piercer Ryan Dreyfuss of Relic Body Arts recommends also bringing a "battle buddy" who will help give you moral support as you get your piercing.
2. Your piercer will then sterilize the jewelry to make it safe, and you’ll get called into the piercing room.
3. Your piercer will clean your skin and mark where they think the piercing will look best, given your ear anatomy and lifestyle. Double check to make sure that you’re good with the piercing location, and then when you’re happy with it, you’ll get your piercing.
4. Your piercer will share information about piercing aftercare - keeping it clean and dry, and keeping pressure away from it at all costs.
When you get a new piercing, make sure you think about healing time and proper aftercare. Taking good care of your new piercing is a top priority to avoid infections, discomfort, and hole closure. Committing to the entire healing period is critical.
For lobe piercings, the initial healing period can be as short as 6 - 10 weeks, but you want to constantly wear earrings at least for the first 6 months to prevent hole closure.
The initial healing period for cartilage piercings is considerably longer. The minimum healing time for cartilage piercings is about 3 months but can take up to 18 months depending on the location.
✨ For all piercings, the initial jewelry should be left alone for about 12 weeks. That said, the longer you can keep it in without changing it, the better for the healing process.
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